North Ferry is seeking a rate hike for the third time in four years. The last request was in 2021, and ferry officials went to council on Tuesday to outline the latest request.

It is not up to the City Council to comment on ferry rates; that is the prerogative of the Suffolk County Legislature, which manages traffic.

A meeting has already been held with the Legislature’s Budget Review Office (BRO), and a second hearing is scheduled for May 2. There may be additional meetings before the BRO makes a recommendation for a vote to the full County Legislature.

Ferry officials unveiled the rate hike proposal on Tuesday.

• One rate that is still in effect is the $1.50 rate for Shelter Island resident passengers.

• Most of the rest of the islands will see a 7.7% to 7.8% increase in fares for residents one way from $6.40 to $6.90. The round-trip fee for residents is $8.40, up from $7.80.

• Resident commuters who purchase a five-day fare will pay $42, an increase of $3.

• Nonresident discounts of $2.50 instead of $2 for passengers; one-way travel up from $7.90 to $8.50; and $11.40, up from $10.60 round-trip.

• The cash price for passengers in the vehicle will increase from $2 to $3.

• Other cash passengers will pay $15 one-way fares, up from $14, and round-trip fares will increase from $22 to $24.

• A five-day commute will cost $49 a week, up from $46; a six-day commute will go up from $52 to $56.

• According to Stella Lagudis, general manager of Heights Property Owners Corporation, discount 10 round trip travel books are out. The company owns North Ferry.

“The FerryPass system is designed to be ‘contactless’,” Ms Lagudis said. She said there had been plans to eliminate paper tickets. But that has nothing to do with fare increases that the county legislature will act on, Ms. Raguidis said.

Without the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), ferry services could cease operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to North Ferry managing director Bridg Hunt. Mr Hunt told a town council working meeting on Tuesday that the PPP funding had “saved our lives” in two tranches.

Without the PPP, the company “would go out of business,” he said. “We’re going to run the business and continue to deliver the service until we can’t.”

In contrast, North Ferry managed to net $370,000 after many of its expenses were covered with federal funds. But there are other costs, including fees payable on board, so in the end, the company is “backwards,” he said. “When you invest more in the company than you take home, it’s not a good business model.”

Investments that must be made from company reserves due to rising sea levels include $370,000 last spring to raise and lengthen a ramp on the Greenport side and the higher cost of building a ramp on the Shelter Island side.

There is also $200,000 for other documentation work. Looking ahead, two more ramps – at Greenport and Shelter Island – will have to be raised and lengthened to handle higher tides.

During the 2008 recession, Mr Hunt said he thought it was a struggle for the company, but it was “a piece of cake” compared with the difficulties caused by the pandemic. Those who normally travel aren’t using the service and don’t have their payments, which offsets the discount given to Shelter Island residents, so there’s very little traffic.

This year, Mr Hunt has been eyeing rising fuel and insurance costs, among other increases. The national inflation rate is 6.4% through February 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

town problem

Superintendent Gerry Siller told Mr Hunt he had hoped the town’s Ferry Study Group would ask questions about the proposed rate change before the county government stepped in. Mr Hunt agreed to meet with the research team.

But he said he contacted supervisors in February while speaking with county councilors Bridget Fleming and Albert Krupski. He said he didn’t hear back from Schiller until last week, when Hunter said he again let supervisors know about the proposed rate hike.

Ms Ragudis said North Ferry officials would meet directly with two members of the Ferry Study Group and town council on Monday to review the application.

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